If you’ve read my post on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, you know that Pooh Bear and I go way back. I grew up with that silly old bear, and he and his Hundred Acre Wood friends hold a special place in my heart. I never got around to seeing this when it was released back in 2011, so I was excited to finally sit down and see what Pooh of the 21st century would look like.
Needless to say, I was…underwhelmed.
That’s not to say that the movie is bad. It’s genuinely not a bad film. There’s just a part of me that wonders why it needed to be made in the first place. Winnie the Pooh stays very true to the original film, featuring all of the same characters and generally the same character designs. The layout of the film is even the same, taking place within the pages of a book, in which the pages and paragraphs appear in various scenes as though the characters are living among them.
I love this. I really do. I loved it about the original and I love that this film wanted to pay homage to it in such an endearing way. That being said, there were almost too many similarities to make this film meaningful in its own right. Was it just because Disney thought they could cash in by remaking a film from 25 years prior? Did they think today’s kids wouldn’t be interested in the “old” story, so it had to be remade? (And if that’s the case, why keep everything the same? Why not modernize the whole story?) There were just so many similarities that I found myself wondering what the purpose of this film was.
That being said, there are a few distinct differences between this and the original that stood out to me. Unfortunately, neither are positive. The first is that all of the characters seem to be engulfed in a cloud of cynicism. What I loved about the original characters was that they were so innocent and earnest in their naivete. Here they’re still naive and silly, but when someone makes a mistake or doesn’t know something, the others criticize or insult him. There is just something about all of the characters that feels edgy, and it didn’t sit well with me. I prefer to think of these characters as perfectly imperfect, with a sense of childish wonder and amusement that never fades. This just felt lacking from the newer version.
My second complaint is more superficial, but really stood out to me. In this film the main antagonist is the fabled Backson, a terrible creature that is responsible for all of life’s little woes.
Um…excuse me…what exactly is wrong with heffalumps and woozles? Are kids today incapable of appreciating the brilliance that is these “scary” creatures? Half the fun of heffalumps and woozles is saying heffalumps and woozles. “Backson”, a simple misreading of “back soon”, is not nearly as entertaining. I would really love to know why this plot point was changed when so many others were kept the same. Yes, it’s a fairly minor point in the grand scheme of things, but it stood out to me the whole film, and I just couldn’t let it go.
Perhaps that’s my problem with this film as a whole. I’m stuck on my childhood memories of Pooh Bear and don’t want to see anything about him changed or altered in any way. Maybe today’s generation loves this film the way I love The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and perhaps I’m just not the target audience for this film. I’m very much attached to the Pooh Bear of my youth, and the thought that he could be changed in any way, however slight, doesn’t sit well. This review should probably be taken with a grain of salt, because I’m entirely incapable of being unbiased. It could very well be a great film, but I think I’ll stick with the original.
Long live the heffalumps and woozles.